Make India Asbestos Free

Make India Asbestos Free
For Asbestos Free India

Journal of Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI). Asbestos Free India campaign of BANI is inspired by trade union movement and right to health campaign. BANI has been working since 2000. It works with peoples movements, doctors, researchers and activists besides trade unions, human rights, environmental, consumer and public health groups. BANI demands criminal liability for companies and medico-legal remedy for victims.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Workers and activists demand ban on asbestos

Trade unions, human rights activists and workers demonstrated in front of FICCI House in New Delhi on 5 Feberuary and called upon the governments of India and Canada to halt the trade in white asbestos. They urged them to invest instead in addressing the occupational and safety concerns of workers and consumers using asbestos and ensuring compensation to all harmed by asbestos.

The demonstration was organised by AICCTU, AITUC, TUCC, NTUI and BANI to bring the issue to the attention to the Canadian leader Jean Charest currently visiting India. A joint letter was also sent to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh by several trade unions and NGOs calling upon him to immediately Ban Asbestos and to ensure passage of the White Asbestos (Ban on Use and Import) Bill 2009 pending in Parliament.

In a press conference today, activists and labour union leaders alleged that the powerful asbestos industry was intimidating and silencing workers, doctors, scientists and activists from articulating the facts about the deadly effects of asbestos. They said that medical experts and scientists all over the world have been warning of the health effects of asbestos usage but governments of India and Canada are ignoring such warnings.

Trade union leaders and human rights activists also sent a message to Quebec's Premier Mr. Charest to stop shipping chrysotile asbestos to India when his own government was spending millions of dollars to remove chrysotile asbestos from Quebec's schools, hospitals and buildings. Mr. Charest was exhorted to listen to the world's leading, authoritative scientific institutions and experts who are asking him to stop exporting asbestos. The speakers appealed to Mr Charest to respect Canada's respectable human rights record and to put people over profit and disclose the truth about chrysotile asbestos with India.

An appeal was also made to Dr. Manmohan Singh to face the truth that Quebec's public health tragedy was being exported to India even as chrysotile asbestos was banned there. The activists alleged that with declining use for asbestos in developed countries, asbestos trade is being shifted toward developing countries.

The speakers at the demonstration claimed that a powerful message was sent out that developing countries can not be turned into global dumping grounds through transfer of hazardous industries and hazardous waste without regard for the human and environmental rights.

Trade unions and activists called upon Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr. Charest to:

* Ban mining, manufacture, use and trade of asbestos in India and Canada
* Let the health experts set the policy on asbestos
* Revise their stand and support the listing of chrysotile asbestos in the PIC list of the Rotterdam Convention
* Ratify the ILO Convention on Asbestos
* Close all asbestos mines and take concrete steps to address the occupational, safety and compensatory concerns of workers employed in asbestos related industries

Few workers afflicted with asbestos related diseases claimed in the press conference that they were sufferings from the incurable illnesses with no legal and medical remedy in sight.

The Press Conference was co-organised by Building and Wood Workers' International, Delhi Asangathit Nirman Mazdoor Union, New Trade Union Initiative, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and Ban Asbestos Network of India (BANI).

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